Southampton v Aston Villa – 2015
Saints Stat Attack
A defeat to high-flying Leicester last weekend puts Southampton’s quest for European football in jeopardy, with Garry Monk’s Swansea hot on their heels. Ronald Koeman will be desperate for a win against Aston Villa this weekend, to prevent it slipping further from their grasp.
In many respects you could argue Southampton were unlucky to lose to Leicester, as they had the lions share of possession and took the same number of shots as their opponents. Their positive approach to the game was probably best encapsulated by the performance of defender Nathaniel Clyne, who looked to get forward at every opportunity – completing an impressive 39 passes in the opposition half. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that this was more than any of his teammates and the third most of any defender in the league.
There have been many bright sparks in Southampton’s season, but arguably the biggest success story has been winger Sadio Mane who has produced a number of eye-catching performances. In particular, his dribbling has impressed and this ability of his was on show against Leicester as he completed four dribbles, the third most in the league during the last round of fixtures.
Southampton’s youth academy has been lauded in recent seasons, as it has produced a number of talented youngsters who have graduated into the first team. One such player who has emerged this season is defensive midfielder Harrison Reed, who’s hard-tackling and determined style of play has impressed many. His ability to protect the back four was evident against Leicester as according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he made five interceptions and won three tackles.
Villa Stat Attack
Tom Cleverley’s third goal in three games moved Aston Villa up to fourteenth, further away from the relegation spots. Tim Sherwood will be looking for one more win to all but guarantee safety for another year.
Tom Cleverley’s recent run of form has seen some pundits tipping him for a recall to the England squad. The midfielder has scored important goals, but he’s also demonstrated his excellent array of passing, with the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index showing that he completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 3.3 minutes.
Cleverley wasn’t the only Villa midfielder showcasing excellent passing skills, fellow England international Fabian Delph was too. Delph played a total of 45 passes in the opposition half, which was more than any other player in the Villa squad and the fourth most in the league.
Villa’s offensive-minded players have gained most of the plaudits for their resurgence in recent weeks, but it would be wrong to ignore the contributions of their defenders. Jores Okore is one player, in particular, who has excelled and he was defensively astute again against West Ham, making a total of 11 defensive contributions (based on blocks, tackles won, clearances and interceptions).
Data & words supplied by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.